This stone circle was destroyed sometime in the early 1780s by some moron who cared little for our ancient sites. Its destruction was described by Robert Muter in 1794—the earliest known reference to the site—when he told:
“Near the Roman camp there is a Druidical temple, which was destroyed within these eight years, by the hands of an ignorant Goth, who carried off the stones, split them, and applied them to build a contemptible bridge over an insignificant rivulet, called Buckland Burn. The stones were seven in number, of round granite, and of unequal sizes. The smallest at least three feet in diameter.”
In the 1850s, when the Ordnance Survey lads came this way to map and seek out the place-names of the area, the ‘Clownstane’ was one such place they listed. In seeking an explanation of the word, a local man told them the folk memory from seventy years prior:
“Mr. Bell of Balgreddan says the name Clownstane originated from the Stones of a Druid Circle which stood convenient to this place and which was broken up and removed to build a bridge near by.”
Fred Coles (1895) included the site in his survey of the Kirkcudbright circles, simply reiterating how,
“According to Dr Muter, the stones “were seized by some vandal for the building of Buckland Bridge.””
Stone Circle (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NX 691 447
Archaeology & History
In an area littered with neolithic and Bronze Age remains, the great Fred Coles (1895) reported a stone circle that was destroyed sometime roughly between 1890 and 1911. When he visited the place with his colleague, Mr E.A. Hornel in 1887, the megalithic ring had already been tampered with. It was, he said,
“found to consist of five granite boulders, all of them large, in situ, and the ridgy grassy hollows of five others—removed, no one can say when. In the centre of this nearly true circle, 90 feet in diameter, is a slight mound, possibly artificial.”
In 1911, when the Royal Commission lads visited the area, they could find no stone circle and reported how “no information could be obtained concerning it” from the local farmer. This might have been because he destroyed it. Some land-owners do such things, as we know; but in this case we may never know.
The site was listed without comment in the Master’s magnum opus (Burl 2000), but he gave it the “uncertain status” category; whilst John Barnatt (1989) questioned whether this was a destroyed stone circle or merely a natural setting that Cole had misinterpreted.
Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain– volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
Amongst a good cluster of petroglyphs, this ornate little fella may have been one visited by George Hamilton (1886) when he visited Balmae and outlying districts, seeking out petroglyphs! We don’t know for certain though, as his descriptions are somewhat vague. However, a few years later the great Fred Coles (1895) came a-wandering in search of the same carvings and, as happens in this line of business, uncovered a few new ones during his rummaging. This was one of them, which he described, very simply, as hiding
“but a few yards from Ross View Cottage, on its N.W. … (with) eight cups being associated with four rings and several grooves, both straight and curved.”
It was only a few years later when the Royal Commission lads (1911) came in search of it and they told how,
“the main design is a central ringed cup with a connected groove, and two outer cups which an outer circle curves eccentrically to enclose.”
But when Ron Morris (1979) explored the area in the 1970s, he was unable to locate this and a number of other carvings that had been reported by Coles. Since then, the carving has been relocated at the grid reference cited above. Also since then, a great deal many more carvings have been found in this locale by the experienced petroglyphic fingers of Maarten van Hoek. (1993)